PRESS RELEASE (*)
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights held at its seat, in San Jose Costa Rica, its XXXIX Regular Session from 19 to 21 January, 1998 and from 22 to 30 January 1998, its XXII Special Session. During these sessions, the Court considered the following matters:
XXXIX REGULAR SESSION
1) Oath of the new Judges of the Court: Judges Sergio Ramirez (Mexico) and Carlos Vicente de Roux Rengifo (Colombia), elected as such during the XXVII Regular Session of the General Assembly of the OAS, celebrated on 30 May to 4 June, 1997 at Lima, Peru, took their oath before the President of the Court and in the presence of the other judges upon assuming office.
2) Amendment to the Rules of Procedure of the Court: the Court approved an amendment to article 57(1) of its Rules of Procedure, which will hereafter read as follows:
[w]hen the case is ready for a decision, the Court shall meet in private. A vote shall be taken and the wording of the judgment approved. The judgment shall be notified to the parties by the Secretariat.
The Court adopted this amendment in order to eliminate the practice of celebrating a public hearing to notify is judgments, by virtue of the principles of procedural economy and after having considered the notification procedure established in its Rules of Procedure.
3) Garrido and Baigorria Case: on 20 January, 1998, the Court held a public hearing to hear the allegations of the representatives of the victims, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the State of Argentina, concerning the reparations in this case.
4) Alvarez et al Case. Provisional Measures in the matter of Colombia: the Court confirmed the Order of its President of 22 December, 1997, in which he extended the provisional measures adopted in this case, with the purpose of safeguarding the life and personal integrity of a member of the Asociación de Detenidos-Desaparecidos de Colombia and her family. The provisional measures adopted in this case have the purpose of ensuring the life and personal integrity of a group of members of said Association, as well as ensuring that it can carry on its activities without any danger to its members.
5) Cesti-Hurtado Case. Provisional Measures in the matter of Peru: Urgent Measures in this case were adopted by the President on 29 July, 1997, and ratified by the Court on 11 September, 1997, with the purpose of ensuring the physical, psychological and moral integrity of Mr. Gustavo Cesti-Hurtado, alleged victim in a case that is in its initial stage before the Court. On 21 January, 1998, the Court issued an Order in which it required the State of Peru to maintain the measures taken in this Case, and to permit Mr. Cesti-Hurtado to choose the medical practitioner of his preference.
6) Request for Advisory Opinion OC-16: the Court was informed of the request for an Advisory Opinion, presented by the State of Mexico on 9 September, 1997. The request refers to the rights of every detained foreigner, who faces the risk of being sentenced to the death penalty, to be notified upon detention of his or her faculty to request the assistance from the Consulate authorities of his or her country and to depend on the guarantees of a fair trial.
7) Cesti-Hurtado Case against Peru: all members of the Court were informed of the Cesti-Hurtado Case against Peru (N. 11.730), interposed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on 9 January 1998. The application presented by the Commission refers to the alleged violation of Articles 5 (Right to Humane Treatment), 7 (Right to Personal Liberty), 8 (Right to a Fair Trial), 11 (Right to Privacy), 17 (Rights of the Family), 21 (Right to Property), 25 (Judicial Protection) and 51(2) of the American Convention on Human Rights, in relation with Articles 1 and 2 of the same, as a result of the inclusion, detention, and deprivation of liberty of the victim in a process, notwithstanding the existence of a definite judgment which orders him to be withdrawn from said proceeding and not to hinder his personal liberty, issued in a Habeas Corpus proceeding. The Commission also requested the Court to require the Peruvian State to sanction those responsible for the alleged violations, to free Mr. Cesti-Hurtado and to compensate him for the period during which he was wrongly detained, and the respective damages in his personal life and patrimony.
8) Baena Ricardo et al Case against Panama: all members of the Court were informed of the Baena Ricardo et al Case against Panama (N. 11.325), interposed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on 16 January, 1998. The application presented by the Commission refers to the alleged violation, by the State of Panama, of articles 8 (Right to a Fair Trial), 9 (Freedom from Ex Post Facto Laws), 10 (Right to Compensation), 15 (Right of Assembly), 16 (Freedom of Association), 25 (Judicial Protection) of the American Convention, in relation with Articles 1 and 2 of the same, as a result of the arbitrary release of 270 public employees who had participated in a march for labor benefits, and the process stemming therefrom, in which their judicial guarantees and their right to judicial protection were allegedly violated. The Commission also requested the Court to declare that Law number 25 and the rule established in article 43 of the Panamanian Constitution, which permits laws concerning `public order or social interest' to be retroactive, is contrary to the American Convention [on Human Rights] in the manner in which it was applied to this case, and must therefore be modified or derogated pursuant to article 2 of said Convention. Likewise, the Commission requested the Court to declare that Panama has violated Articles 33 and 50(2) of the Convention and that it should guarantee the released workers their rights and compensate them.
9) Other Matters: the Court considered several procedural issues in the matters pending before it and approved its Annual Report for 1997, which will be submitted for the consideration of the next General Assembly of the OAS.
The composition of the Court during this Regular Session was the following: Hernan Salgado-Pesantes (Ecuador), President; Antônio A. Cançado Trindade (Brazil), Vicepresident; Maximo Pacheco-Gomez (Chile); Oliver Jackman (Barbados); Alirio Abreu-Burelli (Venezuela); Sergio Garcia-Ramirez (Mexico) and Carlos Vicente de Roux Rengifo (Colombia). Dr. Julio Barberis, appointed as Judge ad hoc by the State of Argentina, also participated in the Garrido and Baigorria Case. Manuel E. Ventura-Robles, Secretary and Victor M. Rodríguez-Rescia, Interim Deputy Secretary, were also present.
XXII Special Session
1) Blake Case:
The Court passed judgment on the Blake case, in which it declared:
by seven votes to one
1. that the State of Guatemala violated, to the detriment of the relatives of Nicholas Chapman Blake, the Judicial Guarantees established in Article 8(1) of the American Convention on Human Rights in relation to Article 1(1) of the same, as established in paragraphs 96 and 97 of the (...) judgment.
Judge Montiel-Argüello Dissenting.
2. that the State of Guatemala violated, to the detriment of the relatives of Nicholas Chapman Blake, the right of moral and psychological integrity established in Article 5 of the American Convention on Human Rights in relation with Article 1(1) of the same, as established in paragraphs 112, 114, 115, and 116 of the (...) judgment.
3. that the State of Guatemala must compromise as many means possible within its reach to investigate the denounced facts and to sanction those responsible for the disappearance and death of Mr. Nicholas Chapman Blake.
4. that the State of Guatemala must pay fair compensation to the relatives of Mr. Nicholas Chapman Blake and refund the expenses which they incurred before the Guatemalan authorities in this process.
5. that the reparations stage be opened.
Judge Montiel-Argüello informed the Court of his Dissenting Opinion, Judge Cançado Trindade of his Separate Opinion, and Judge Novales-Aguirre of his Concurring Opinion, all of which are attached [t]hereto.
By means of an Order issued on 24 January, 1998, the Court established the time-frames within which the parties must submit their allegations concerning the Reparations Stage.
2) Paniagua Morales et al Case:
The Court deliberated on the Paniagua Morales et al Case and will study the possibility of passing judgment on the merits of this Case during its XXIII Special Session, which will be held at its seat in March, 1998.
The composition of the Court during this Special Session was the following: Hernan Salgado-Pesantes (Ecuador), President; Antônio A. Cançado Trindade (Brazil), Vicepresident; Hector Fix-Zamudio (Mexico); Alejandro Montiel-Argüello (Nicaragua); Máximo Pacheco-Gomez (Chile); Oliver Jackman (Barbados) and Alirio Abreu-Burelli (Venezuela). Alfonso Novales-Aguirre (Blake case) and Edgar E. Larraondo-Salguero (Paniagua Morales et al case), appointed by the State of Guatemala as judges ad hoc in the mentioned Cases, participated as well. Also present were the Secretary of the Court, Manuel E. Ventura-Robles, and the Interim Deputy Secretary, Víctor Manuel Rodríguez-Rescia.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights is an autonomous judicial institution of the Organization of the American States established in 1979. The Court is composed of jurists of the highest moral standards and competence in the area of human rights. Judges are elected by the OAS General Assembly and cannot exercise their functions for more than two six-year terms.
San Jose, 2 February, 1997.
(*) El contenido de este comunicado es responsabilidad
de la Secretaría de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos. El texto oficial
de los documentos reseñados puede obtenerse mediante solicitud escrita dirigida
a la Secretaría, en la dirección que se adjunta.
The contents of this press release are the sole responsibility of the Secretariat of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The official text of the documents cited may be obtained by sending a written request to the Secretariat at the address provided at the end of this press release.